Cytogenetic Technologist: Job Description & Requirements

An interest in biology and the educational credits to match it can lead to a career as a cytogenetic technologist or technician who works in genetic research. Read further to learn about the requirements and benefits of working in this field.

Career Definition for a Cytogenetic Technologist

Cytogenetic technologists research the molecular pathology of genetic diseases and disorders. Samples of bodily fluids, blood, tissue, chromosomes, cells and other genetic matter are collected from patients. Working in medical laboratories, cytogenetic technologists track and analyze biological cultures with microscopes and other medical imaging tools. They may also write and supply reports on their research findings for doctors, medical agencies and private parties.

Education Bachelor's degree in medical or life science
Job Skills Good analytical and technical skills
Median Salary (2017)* $51,770 (for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 13% (for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

Cytogenetic technicians can enter this field with a 2-year associate's degree in life science from a junior college or technical school. But, cytogenetic technologists are generally required to have a 4-year bachelor's degree in medical science or life science from a college or university. Degree courses often include classes in biology, math, molecular science and medical terminology. Some states require cytogenetic technologists to pass a licensure test as a condition of employment.

Skills Required

Good analytical skills are required for cytogenetic technologists. Technical skills are required for staying current with the advancement of medical technology tools.

Career and Economic Outlook

The growth of the elderly population and the resulting increase in the need for diagnosing medical conditions are factors in the need for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, a category that includes cytogenetic technologists. Job growth of 13% is expected for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians from 2016-2026, which is faster than the average for all occupations, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual income for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians in general was $51,770 as of May 2017, the BLS reported.

Alternate Career Options

Similar positions to a cytogenetic technologist include:

Chemical Technician

After earning an associate's degree in chemical technology or applied science, these technicians assist chemical engineers and chemists in the research and development of chemical products. Slower-than-average employment growth of 4% in this field was predicted by the BLS for the decade ending in 2026. According to the BLS, in 2017 chemical techs earned an annual median salary of $47,280.

Biological Technician

Usually needing a bachelor's degree in biology or a similar field, biological technicians assist medical and biological scientists in conducting lab experiments and tests. The BLS reported their median wage as $43,800 per year in 2017 and projected faster-than-average job growth of 10% for biological technicians from 2016-2026.

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